KA2N Gorgon IIA
The KA2N Gorgon IIA – also designated KU2N, CTV-4, and CTV-N-4 – was an air-to-air missile developed by the United States Navy near the end of World War II. Proving a failure in its designed role, it was repurposed as an experimental testbed for missile technology.
|KA2N Gorgon IIA|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Used by||United States Navy|
|Designer||Naval Aircraft Modification Unit|
|Manufacturer||Singer Manufacturing Company|
|Mass||971 pounds (440 kg)|
|Length||14 feet 6 inches (4.42 m)|
|Engine||one Reaction Motors CML2N liquid-fuel rocket|
350 lbf (1,600 N) thrust for 130 seconds
|Wingspan||11 feet (3.4 m)|
|25 miles (40 km)|
|Speed||500 mph (800 km/h)|
Design and development
The Gorgon missile program began in July 1943 at the Naval Aircraft Modification Unit in Warminster, Pennsylvania, and was intended to develop a family of small air-launched missiles for air-to-air and air-to-surface roles. The Gorgon IIA, the baseline design of the family, was of canard configuration, a conventional high-mounted monoplane wing providing lift; the structure was largely of laminated wood, while propulsion was by a Reaction Motors CML2N liquid-fuel rocket, fueled with monoethylamine and nitric acid.
Intended for use intercepting bombers or transport aircraft, the Gorgon IIA was said to be the first American guided missile to be powered by a liquid-fueled rocket. It was fitted with a television guidance system, the pilot of the launching aircraft controlling the missile via radio based on the view from a camera mounted in the nose of the missile.
Production of the Gorgon IIA, designated KA2N-1, was ordered from the Singer Manufacturing Company, a sewing machine manufacturer. A mockup of the missile's configuration was approved in March 1944, and by April 1945, orders for 21 Gorgon IIA missiles had been confirmed, all of which would be built. However, initial flight tests of the system, beginning as unpowered glides early in 1945 and proceeding to fully powered guided trials in March 1945, showed that the guidance system was impractical; the closing speeds of the missile and its target were too great for the Gorgon IIA's limited maneuverability to allow the missile's operator to correctly steer the weapon. Despite this difficulty, the Gorgon IIA was the first jet- or rocket-powered radio-controlled aircraft to successfully fly in the United States.
The control issues, combined with the overall immature state of missile technology, led to the Gorgon program being realigned as a testing program; the Gorgon IIA being redesignated in 1946 as KU2N-1, then CTV-4 in 1947, and finally as CTV-N-4 in 1948; the CTV designation reflecting its status as a control test vehicle, although the program was largely concluded by that point. Despite the difficulties with its guidance system, the Gorgon IIA was considered aerodynamically satisfactory.
A turbojet-powered version of the Gorgon II missile, Gorgon IIB, was also ordered, with four examples being contracted for; the project was cancelled due to a lack of suitable engines.
Very few Gorgon IIAs survived the testing program. One was donated by the U.S. Navy to the National Air Museum (now the National Air and Space Museum) in 1951; it is currently on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
- Parsch 2005
- "Gorgon IIA Missile". National Air & Space Museum. Smithsonian Institution. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
- Bowman 1957, p.124.
- Ordway and Wakeford 1960, p.181.
- "Links to the Past: Michiana History – Record Detail: Singer Sewing Machine Company – 1927". South Bend, IN: St. Joseph County Public Library. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
- White 1991, p.36.
- "Navy Guided Missiles". Astro-Jet. Reaction Research Society (18): 11. Fall 1947. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
- Bowman, Norman John (1957). The Handbook of Rockets and Guided Missiles. Chicago: Perastadion Press. ASIN B0007EC5N4.
- Ordway, Frederick Ira; Ronald C. Wakeford (1960). International Missile and Spacecraft Guide. New York: McGraw-Hill. ASIN B000MAEGVC.
- Parsch, Andreas (4 January 2005). "Martin ASM-N-5 Gorgon V (and other NAMU Gorgon variants)". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones. Designation-Systems. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
- White, Maxwell (1991). An Interpretative History of the Pacific Missile Test Center: The Genesis, Road to Point Mugu, 1936–1946. Point Mugu, CA: Pacific Missile Test Center. ASIN B00010AIGU.